The broad national interest in football has served as a unifying influence in an increasingly diverse country. A huge fraction of white male conservatives, for example, have played high school football with black teammates.
White spectators like to conceive of their team’s black players as defending the homeland. The ability of black football players to play as a team on Saturday and Sunday inclines whites to be more optimistic about blacks’ potential for pro–social order than might be warranted by what they observe on Monday through Friday. And, indeed, football offers the kind of authoritarian structure under which African-Americans do best.
Moreover, football fandom serves as a way for Americans to reassure themselves of their society’s capacity for military might and lawful cooperation.